RESPONDING TO CRITICISM
2 Sam. 16:5-14
A. HUMOR: $20 Short
1. A Post Office worker, at the main sorting office, found an unstamped, poorly hand-written envelope, addressed to God. He opens it and discovers it is from an elderly lady, distressed because all her savings -- $200 -- have been stolen. She will be cold and hungry this Christmas.
2. He organizes the postal workers, who dig deep and come up with $180 to donate. They get it to her by special courier the same morning. A week later, the same postal worker recognizes the same handwriting on another envelope. He opens it.
3. "Dear God, Thank you for the $180 for Christmas, which would have been so bleak otherwise. P.S. It was $20 short but that was probably those thieving workers at the Post Office."
5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul's family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He pelted David and all the king's officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David's right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, "Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! 8 The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!" 9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head."
10 But the king said, "What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, 'Curse David,' who can ask, 'Why do you do this?' " 11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, "My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today."
13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.
1. PUBLIC SCRUTINY. Some time ago, a candidate for Secretary of Defense, Bobby Ray Inman (naval admiral), withdrew from consideration because William Safire & Sen. Rob. Dole criticized him. The press responded on Nightline, "If you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen."
a. Some public scrutiny is necessary to ensure good candidates.
b. But many in the media seem to delight/thrive on turning up dirt. The definition of a "dog" -- "one who gets into your garbage and spreads it all over town."
c. This same "spirit" sometimes takes on Christian attire with some who feel that it’s their business to know and tell personal facts.
d. It's a dangerous thing to start inspecting others.
2. ILLUSTRATION. A lady in Switzerland bought a small package of greatly aged cheese. She continued shopping in different stores. One clerk had an odor so offensive, that she bolted from the store complaining, "How can he keep a job smelling like that?" In another store, she encountered another clerk with such an offensive smell! She thought to herself, "What is the world coming to? Are all these young people not taking baths?" Imagine her embarrassment when, at home, she opened her sacks to find out that it was she, not others, who was responsible for the odor!
3. The word "critic" (Greek -- Kritikos) means "able to discern or judge." Q - Does the Bible say Christians are to judge one another? No!
a. "Judge not, that you be not judged" Matthew 7:1.
b. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..." John 8:7.
4. BUT HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN YOU ARE CRITICIZED?
5. Title: “Responding to Criticism.”
I. NATURAL REACTIONS TO CRITICISM
A. HURT -- it hurts!
1. Nobody likes rejection, or to be the butt of jokes, but it’s a part of life, to some extent, and also part of our lot as Christians.
2. "All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" 2 Timothy 3:12. Peter says in his epistle that persecution is a witness that the Spirit of God is within us (1 Peter 4:14).
B. GET DEFENSIVE OR DENIAL
1. Take up for yourself.
2. Or deny the criticism is true.
C. GET EVEN – ATTACK YOUR ENEMIES
1. In the flesh, you can even justify revenge or spiritualize it.
a. Did you hear about the efficiency expert who did a seminar on time management for a company's junior executives? He ended one of his lectures with a disclaimer. "Don't attempt these task-organizing tips at home," he said. "Why not?" someone asked.
b. "I did a study of my wife's routine of fixing breakfast," he said
sheepishly. "She made a lot of trips between the refrigerator and the stove, the table and the cabinets — often carrying only one item. So I asked my wife, ‘Honey, why don't you try carrying several things at once so you can be more efficient.' "
c. "Did that save time?" the questioner continued. "Actually, yes," the lecturer replied. "It used to take her twenty minutes to get my breakfast. Now I get my own in seven."
D. HOLD A GRUDGE/ BITTERNESS
"A grudge is the only thing that doesn't get better when it is nursed" (Treasury, p. 113).
II. SEVEN GODLY REACTIONS TO CRITICISM
A. BE SILENT, UNCOMPLAINING
1. During Shimei’s whole speech (vss. 7-8), David said nothing. Jesus responded that same way to His accusers; "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth” Acts 8:32; Isaiah 53:7. Jesus set a good example for us.
2. No counter-criticism. Someone has said that “the best defense is a good offence.” That’s exactly what many do when they are criticized: they go on the attack to divert attention away from their own shortcomings to someone else’s. This is not what David or the Lord Jesus did.
B. DID NOT RETALIATE
1. Though surrounded with many armed men loyal to himself, David did not order a retaliation. All David had to do was give a look to one of his warriors and Shimei’s head would have been on the ground, and everyone would have thought David acted wisely and justly – everyone but God! God would have perceived as an act of arrogance and kept David in his trial longer until he was further humbled.
2. THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES
1 Peter 3:9, "Do not repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, for to this you were called."
1 Corinthians 4:13, "When we were slandered, we answered kindly."
Proverbs 17:9, "He who covers over an offense promotes love..."
1 Thessalonians 5:15, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but follow that which is good."
C. PUT YOUR EYES ON GOD
1. God is in charge! David said to Abishai, (10)“If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, 'Curse David,' who can ask, 'Why do you do this?'” (12) It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today."
2. Know that "God won't give me more than I can bear" 1 Cor. 10:13.
3. Ask, “What is God trying to accomplish through this?”
4. It's not how others act, but how WE react.
D. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE
1. Remember who You are/ Represent.
2. Maintain your Christian integrity/ witness.
3. Ask, “What would Jesus do?”
4. ILLUSTRATION. Jefferson Davis, President of the Southern Confederacy, asked Gen. Robert E. Lee’s opinion of an officer. Lee gave him a high recommendation. One of Lee’s aides said, "Don't you know that that officer hates and maligns you?" "Yes, but the president asked me what I thought of the officer, not what he thought of me."
E. IS THERE TRUTH IN THE CHARGES?
1. David wasn't guilty of Saul's family’s blood (that was judgment because of his slaughtering of the Gibeonites -- 21:8-12).
2. But David knew that his sin with Bathsheba was still bearing fruit -- he had killed Uriah the Hittite and taken his wife.
3. If the criticism is true and we've made a mistake or sinned, then we should confess to God and to those we may have injured.
F. REMEMBER WE’RE FALLIBLE
1. We can learn to trust God to carry us through. It's an opportunity to learn to trust in God's grace. That’s what David did!
2. 2 Chronicles 7:14
G. SEEK TO EMULATE CHRIST
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Phip. 3:13-14.
III. THE OUTCOME OF DAVID’S BEHAVIOR
A. GOD FRUSTRATED THE ADVICE OF ABSALOM’S COUNSELOR AHITHOPHEL.
B. DAVID’S ARMY PREVAILED OVER HIS ADVERSARY AND DAVID WAS RESTORED TO THE THRONE.
C. SHIMEI LATER WAS PUNISHED FOR HIS INSOLENCE, BUT NOT BY DAVID.
1. When Janet Seever arrived at 6 a.m. in the large hospital kitchen, Rose was already checking name tags on the trays against the patient roster. "Hi, I'm Janet." I tried to sound cheerful, although I already knew Rose's reputation for being impossible to work with. "I'm scheduled to work with you this week."
2. Rose, a middle-aged woman with graying hair, peered at me over her reading glasses. I could tell from her expression she wasn't pleased to see a student worker. "What do you want me to do? Start the coffee?" Rose sullenly nodded and went back to checking name tags.
3. I filled the 40-cup pot with cold water and began making the coffee when Rose gruffly snapped, "That's not the way to make coffee." She stepped in and took over. "I was just doing it the way our supervisor showed us to do it," I said in astonishment. "The patients like the coffee better the way I do it," she replied curtly.
4. Nothing I did pleased her. All day long her eagle eyes missed nothing and her sharp words stung. She literally trailed me around the kitchen. At 5 P.M., totally exhausted, I trudged the six blocks home. Fighting back tears, I wrestled with my dilemma alone in my room. "Lord, what do you want me to do? I can't take much more of Rose."
5. Should I see if my supervisor would switch me to work with someone else? On the other hand, I didn't want to be a quitter. What the Lord’s impressed me with in prayer caught me completely by surprise -- I needed to love Rose. Love her? No way! Tolerate, yes, but loving her was impossible. "Lord, I can't love Rose. You'll have to do it through me."
6. Working with Rose the next morning, I ignored the barbs thrown in my direction and did things Rose's way as much as possible to avoid friction. As I worked, I silently began to surround Rose with a warm blanket of prayers. "Lord, help me love Rose. Lord, bless Rose."
7. Over the next few days an amazing thing began to happen. As I prayed for this irritating woman, my focus shifted from what she was doing to me, and I started seeing Rose as the hurting person she was. The icy tension began to melt away. Throughout the summer, we had numerous opportunities to work together. Each time she seemed genuinely happy to see me.
8. As I worked with this lonely woman, I listened to her--something no one else had done. I learned that she was burdened by elderly parents who needed her care, her own health problems, and an alcoholic husband she was thinking of leaving.
9. One day, while I was working alone in one of the hospital kitchens, Rose entered the room. Instead of her blue uniform, she was wearing street clothes. I looked at her in surprise. "Aren't you working today?" "I got me another job and won't be working here no more," she said as she walked over and gave me a quick hug. "I just came to say good-bye." Then she turned abruptly and walked out the door.
10. Although I never saw Rose again, I learned a lesson I've never
forgotten. The world is full of people like Rose--irritating, demanding, unlovable - yet hurting inside. I've found that love is the best way to turn an enemy into a friend, and to plant the seed of the Gospel.
B. ALTAR CALL. Have you judged yourself? "If a man would judge himself he should not be judged."
1. We can use the painful experience of being criticized to become more sensitive to others.
2. If you have been critical of others, ask God to help you examine yourself.
3. Do you have those who've hurt you? Use this as an opportunity to "pray for your enemies."